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4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/02/2009   
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Contents >> Higher Courts >> DEFENDANTS ADJUDICATED

DEFENDANTS ADJUDICATED

The following information only relates to defendants who were adjudicated, i.e. finalised via a plea of guilty or a decision by the judge as to their guilt or otherwise of the final charges laid.

There were 14,341 defendants adjudicated in the Higher Courts in 2007-08, a 3% increase from 2006-07.

Northern Territory had the largest proportion of males to females, with males accounting for 92% (or 233) of adjudicated defendants. South Australia (91%) and New South Wales (90%) also had a larger proportion of males compared to the national average of 86%.


Principal offence

Five offence types accounted for nearly three-quarters of defendants heard in the Higher Courts: acts intended to cause injury (23%); illicit drug offences (18%); sexual assault (15%); robbery and extortion (11%); and unlawful entry with intent (9%). Between 2001-02 and 2007-08, these five offences have continued to account for the largest number of defendants charged.

Although the number of defendants adjudicated decreased 6% in the period from 2001-02, the number charged with sexual assault and illicit drug offences increased during this period (up 32% to 2,099 and 30% to 2,615 respectively). The number of defendants charged with unlawful entry with intent decreased by 44% (to 1,234) between 2001-02 and 2007-08.

DEFENDANTS ADJUDICATED, Selected principal offence
Graph: GRAPH 200708 Higher Courts defendants adjudicated by principal offence timeseries



Sex

In 2007-08, defendants charged were more likely to be male (86%) than female (12%). These proportions have remained relatively stable over time, with males accounting for around 87% of defendants since 2001-02.

The two most common offences that both males and females were charged with were acts intended to cause injury (23% and 22% respectively) and illicit drug offences (18% and 21% respectively). For males, this was followed by sexual assault (16%) and for females it was deception (17%). There was a similar pattern of offences for both sexes during 2006-07.

DEFENDANTS ADJUDICATED, Selected principal offence by sex
Graph: GRAPH 2007-08 Higher Courts principal offence by sex



Age

Those aged 25 to 34 years accounted for just under a third (31%) of defendants charged in the Higher Courts. This was followed by defendants aged under 25 years (30%), and those aged 35 to 44 years (22%). Defendants aged 45 years and over represented 17% of defendants.

Approximately one quarter of defendants aged under 25 years and 25 to 34 years were charged with acts intended to cause injury (27% and 25% respectively). While robbery and extortion accounted for 20% of defendants aged under 25 years, this offence type was less common for defendants over this age group. The largest proportion of defendants aged 45 years and over were charged with sexual assault (29%), followed by illicit drug offences (23%).

DEFENDANTS ADJUDICATED, Age groups by selected principal offence
Graph: GRAPH 2007-08 Higher Courts age groups by principal offence


When comparing defendants by principal offence type, defendants aged under 25 years of age accounted for the largest proportions of the following offence types: robbery and extortion (53%); property damage (44%); unlawful entry with intent (42%); and acts intended to cause injury (35%). Of those charged with theft and illicit drug offences, the largest proportion of defendants were aged 25 to 34 years (both 34%). For sexual assault offences, just over a third (34%) of defendants with this principal offence type were aged 45 years and over.

DEFENDANTS ADJUDICATED, Selected principal offence by age groups
Graph: GRAPH 2007-08 Higher Courts principal offence by age groups



Defendants acquitted

Of the 2,506 defendants that had a trial outcome (acquitted or found guilty by the court), 45% were acquitted.

Two principal offences accounted for two-thirds of all defendants acquitted (1,138) in 2007-08: sexual assault (502 or 44%); and acts intended to cause injury (250 or 22%).

Defendants heard for sexual assault and homicide offences had the largest proportion of defendants acquitted (24% and 18% respectively).

Queensland had the smallest proportion of adjudicated defendants acquitted (5%) compared to the national average of 8%.


Defendants proven guilty

In 2007-08, the majority (92% or 13,203) of defendants heard in the Higher Courts were proven guilty. Of these defendants, a large proportion (81% or 11,652) pleaded guilty, rather than being found guilty at trial.

Almost all adjudicated defendants charged with unlawful entry with intent, illicit drug offences and weapons and explosives offences were proven guilty (all 98%).

Defendants charged with weapons and explosives offences (92%), unlawful entry with intent (90%), and illicit drug offences (90%) were more likely to have pleaded guilty than those charged with homicide (56%) and sexual assault (59%).





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